Japanese online giant Rakuten announced Thursday it was leading a $100 million investment in Pinterest, a fast-growing US bulletin-board style social media website.
Rakuten said it was joining with existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital, and "a number of angel investors."
"The funding will allow Pinterest to continue improving its service and expanding its community globally," a statement said.
"The investment also marks the start of a strategic partnership between Rakuten and Pinterest to help expand in Japan and into Rakuten's 17 other global markets."
Pinterest has become the Web's hottest young website, particularly among women, by giving people virtual bulletin boards that they decorate with pictures showcasing interests in anything from food to sports, fashion or travel.
It had more than 11 million unique visitors in surveys earlier this year, but some see a potential for the site to be used for e-commerce. The investment comes amid intense interest in social media with Facebook's massive public offering this week.
Hiroshi Mikitani, chief executive of Rakuten said: "While some may see e-commerce as a straightforward vending machine-like experience, we believe it is a living process where both retailers and consumers can communicate, discover, and curate to make the experience more entertaining."
He added, "We see tremendous synergies between Pinterest's vision and Rakuten's model for e-commerce. Rakuten looks forward to introducing Pinterest to the Japanese market as well as other markets around the world."
Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, said the site seeks "to help people discover things they love, by connecting people through their shared interests. Bringing Rakuten on board gives us an amazing opportunity to move a step closer to this goal."
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